August in the Vegie Patch

red russian kale ediblebackyard nz

August is our get ready for spring month. Wander your vegie patch and think about what you are going to sow and where.

  • Order in whatever seeds you need… remember greencrops!
  • Gobble up overwintering crops like carrots, parsnips and yams to create new space (and so they don’t go to waste).
  • If you don’t have enough compost, get some in.

What to plant and sow in August


Here’s what I can plant in my Levin garden, given that at the mo, my soil is 10 degrees and night temps range from 3 to 13. Another key thing is my soil, which is easily workable from all those years of care. If you are on heavy clay and your soil is soggy as, best to leave it alone and plant into pots and boxes until it’s dried out.

Meantime, keep building and converting clay to soil, you’ll get there!

If you’re a beginner and unsure what suits your place just take the plunge and have a go – it’s simply the best way to learn. It’s how us old gardeners know stuff, by all our flop crops!

Direct sow outside: peas, snow peas, broad beans, mustard, lupin or phacelia greencrop, miners lettuce, corn salad, spinach, radish, kohlrabi, parsnip, rocket, spring onions

miners lettuce

Miners lettuce is one of our winter/ spring favourites! Cut and come again – juicy and yum.

Direct sow under cover: coriander, saladings, beetroot

Tray sow: broccoli, cabbage, lettuces, onions

Plant outside: asparagus, broccoli, cabbage, kale, onions, shallots, spring onions, perpetual beet, silverbeet, rhubarb. Strawberries can go in now, but May really is the best time!

Plant under cover: sprouted potatoes, lettuce

Borage for Bees

Good Companions: Direct sow heaps of companion flowers like calendula, cornflower, borage, stocks, larkspur, love in the mist, poppies, heartsease and divide up herbs and perennials to build your beneficial insect fodder and habitat.

Lupin greencrops sown this month will be pre-flower and ready to cut down come October. A perfectly timed precursor to mid-spring plantings of heavy feeders. Think corn! tomatoes! squash!.

chitting potatoes

Chit potatoes and get some lovely stocky sprouts – ready for planting this month or next.

Lots of Onions in a Small Space

3 in 1 hole onions

Three times as many in fact – I’ve got x 102 in a 2m x 1.2m space using my 3 onions in 1 hole trick. Or rather, Eliot Coleman’s 3 in 1 hole trick (honour where honour is due).

The onions pop up kind of sideways as they grow and fill the space nicely.

They seem happier this way. Such flimsy seedlings for so long, it must be nice, tucked up with their mates, rather than flailing about on their own.

onions - 3 in 1 hole

Trim the roots and tops before planting for plumper bulbs at the end. Plant at 20cm spacings.

Timing it right: tomatoes, peppers and aubergines from seed

tomatoes ready to plant out

Tomatoes, aubergines and peppers are ready to transplant 6 – 8 weeks after sowing. If you have a greenhouse or live in the winterless north then you can get on the job this month.  I will be sowing mine soon. At this cold time of year, you need a heat pad or hot water cupboard or hotbox to get the soil in your seed raising flats 20 degrees. If the soils not warm enough your peppers won’t get out bed for you.

Without these things, I suggest you wait until conditions are right. Funnily enough summer crops flourish in summery weather. Forced to contend with cold nights, chilly mornings and heavy soil, they stumble, trip and flop.

With so many cool things to sow and plant right now, there’s no need to force it. Besides, moving with the seasons is the whole point right.


  1. Joy Anderton says

    Kia ora Kath and all lounge-locked gardeners
    Sitting watching the watertable rise by the minute here in Otaki it was a heart warming moment to receive your welcome message Kath.
    Even in the rain the first flush of miniature spring bulbs popping up is a delight.
    At least with all the fires there’ll be plenty of wood ash to boost the compost heap. Thanks for the words of wisdom Kath

  2. Helen B-Mills says

    I look forward so much to your bright and cheerful and very helpful news letters every month. Thank you Kath.

  3. Hello Kath,

    What is EM for your soil?
    Enjoy your news letters, very much!

    • Hi Carina

      Glad you enjoy the newsletters!

      Em is effective microorganisms – a team of beneficial fungi, bacteria, yeasts to out compete the bad guys and improve soil health so your plants grow with gusto! Like how yoghurt or kefir build a strong population of beneficial microorganisms in your gut. The website has heaps of info.


  4. Hi Cath, do you know were to buy Maori seed potatoes from?

  5. Hi Kath,
    Crop rotation – afraid I’m still at Winnie the poo stage.
    With limited space and other site challenges I tend to have one sheltered bed where lettuces thrive, one good sunny spot for garlics and toms, one against-the-fence place for beans, etc. Any thoughts?

    Amongst my many neglected beds are some strawberry plants that did ok last year so a pegged out the runners, gave them a lovely seaweed mulch and tucked them up for winter.
    Yesterday I hoed the weeds and gave them a sprinkle of the last of my rok solid. What more can I do – I should I have done – to make sure I land in strawberry heaven?
    Thanks so much,

    • As ever, my thoughts are about noticing how things go and adjusting accordingly. Getting to know your own particular space. In tight places containers are super useful because you can empty the soil onto beds and refresh minimise soil borne disease that way. Teaming good companions up is another great way to use space better for example dwarf beans beneath tomatoes – nitrogen feeder + heavy feeder is a winner. A succession of greencrops in between is another strategy to clean/ rest/ rebuild soil between times if growing the same annual crop repeatedly in one spot.
      As for strawbs, sounds like you’ve done great things here. Next year in May might I suggest spreading a generous layer of rotten manure, grows the best berries ever! but the key is time for it to incorporate. If you’ve got a big strong set of leaves on your plants you’ll have a great crop – if not keep plucking off the flowers and build your foliage with liquid seaweed or some such and let them flower when they’ve got enough leaves to support berries. Mulch now will minimise fungal splash back and hold moisture – oh so important for these shallow rooters.
      happy days

  6. Kia ora Kath,

    Well done you for the sensible boundary keeping – we all love the monthly emails and fabulous blog posts and would rather they kept coming than let the lot fall over because you’re spent from late nights answering our individuals! Keep up the awesome work 😊

  7. Hi Kath,
    Thank you for your precious advice,
    Do you have any book to recommend to start gardening with the moon? I have never paid attention to the moon but my grand mother does and her garden is thriving so I want to give it a go.

  8. I loved your letter to us at the beginning of this newsletter. Makes me feel like we are all in this together and like we can make a difference, just by doing the things we love to do. I feel like we can support each other more and this is what you are doing–supporting us to do the things that are healing our planet and the people on it. No Kath, you are not stretching it at all. We must all stretch to get to the place where we can do more for each other and for the earth we so love.

  9. Ruth Harrison says

    Hi Kath,
    This is really useful and I’m starting to get my vege bed ready for spring, after the winter veges have done their dash. But I have a big creeping oxalis problem in the vege bed (thats the yellow flower). I wondered if you had any tips on dealing with this problem please? earlier this year I had to weed the vege garden thoroughly every second day as the oxalis came up very quickly and covered everything – it was a nightmare and one I don’t want a repeat of! I have read that spraying with vinegar can help. Thanks!!! Ruth

    • Tricky as Ruth. You dont want to vinegar or baking soda amongst vegetables. This may seem drastic but make a new vegie garden in an oxalis free spot. Or shut down the infested bit, cover with a tarp for a year then lay thick cardboard and make a no dig garden on top. Life is too short to be weeding oxalis out of a vegie bed! The more you disturb it the more it spread and as a vegie garden is regularly disturbed its not a winner. Better to use the area for perennials/ fruit trees. Good luck 🙂

      • Ruth Harrison says

        Thanks so much Kath! A bit disheartening having this problem since I’ve only just got into vege gardening – but I guess its just one of the challenges to get through!!
        I have googled this and seen lots of different advice – then wondered why I hadn’t asked you as you always have a well thought out and sensible approach!!, thanks againl

        • So much learning in the garden! I get it… agggh begin again! but its well worth it and now you’ve got really solid awareness up your sleeve for future – avoid weed infestations for annual crops or eliminate the weed infestation before creating the garden. So good. Enjoy!

  10. paul kingdom says

    Hi Kath,
    nubie gardner here. Loving you newsletters and advise. Im love love loving learning how to live out of my garden. Thank you.
    Kath ive got a avocado plant and it has brown leaves growing . The new shots are looking great but im concerned it may have a disease of maybe bad soil. Any advise please.

    Thanks Kath. Keep up the fantastic work and stay well

  11. Philip Wills says

    Kia ora Bonny I think a lot of the smaller growers have sold out already (incl setha’s) but I found a good range from Morton-Smith Dawe at M10.

  12. Ruth Offord says

    Hi Kath,
    Love the tip of three onions in a hole. Does it work just as well with red onions?

    I grow everything in pots, evergrow bags and vegepods as we have no open ground.
    I have installed worm towers in all of the pods which seemed lifeless at first, but I was blown away with the amount of worms in one of the pods I turned over yesterday to get ready for spring.
    Do you have any tips for growing in containers?
    I have learnt lots from your news letters already.
    Thank you.

    • Oh yes – red onions as well. Such a good space saver. I dont have alot of experience in pots nor have I written much about them but there are heaps of really good container and pot vegie growers out there now for you to draw on. One I live is The edible balcony India Naidoo. The only article Ive written is this one here Take care out there, Kath

    • Hey Kath,

      Thanks so much for sharing your wisdom. Very much appreciated.

      We’ve recently moved and and been quite busy of late, so are lacking compost for this season. The current gardens have been well looked after over the years but we still want to amend them. You mentioned ordering in compost, which I have done in the past, yet I am much more cautious about that these days due to the negative impacts they can have k on soul life, depending on source. Do you have any recommendations? W are located in Whanganui.

      Thanks so much

      • Hey Jared

        You are right to be cautious. The very best compost is the stuff you make yourself. Hands down. I get it though – the business factor. How I’ve adapted over the years is to have less annual vegetables by moving into a few more perennials and to grow three times as much in a smaller space by sowing the next crop beneath the feet of the older crop take the pressure off the compost making to make it achievable. For now though you need compost and I cannot help you there – I’d hunt out one of the many local organic/ permaculture crew and hit them up. Also to diary in an hour a week to collect organic matter. This stash is the difference.
        all the best Kath

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